Messages about Antibiotic Resistance in Different Newspaper Genres

  • Donyai P
  • Okafor S
  • Virgo R
  • et al.
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Poorer people are more likely to use antibiotics; inappropriate antibiotic use causes resistance, and health campaigns attempt to change behaviour through education. However, fuelled by the media, the public think antibiotic resistance is outside their control. Differences in the attribution of blame for antibiotic resistance in two genres of UK newspapers, targeting distinct socioeconomic groups, were examined using a mixed methods approach. Firstly, depiction of blame was categorised as either external to the lay public (outside their control) or internal (lay person accountable) and subjected to a chi-square test. Secondly, using critical discourse analysis, we examined the portrayal of the main agents through newspaper language. Data from 597 articles (307 broadsheets) analysed revealed a significant association between newspaper genre and attribution of blame for antibiotic resistance. While both newspaper types blamed antibiotic resistance predominantly on factors external to the lay public, broadsheets were more likely to acknowledge internal factors than tabloids. Tabloids provided a more skewed representation, exposing readers to inaccurate explanations about antibiotic resistance. They highlighted ineptitude in health professionals, victimising patients and blaming others, while broadsheets used less emotive language. Pharmacists should take special care to communicate the importance of appropriate antibiotic use against this backdrop of distortion.




Donyai, P., Okafor, S., Virgo, R., Amin, K., & Nasr, M. (2013). Messages about Antibiotic Resistance in Different Newspaper Genres. Pharmacy, 1(2), 181–192.

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